"Every day I’m challenged with new technologies, protocols and regulatory frameworks. What an exciting field!"
DISTRIBUTION MODERNIZATION DIRECTOR
BURNS & MCDONNELL
BS in Electrical Engineering, University of Nebraska – Lincoln | MBA, University of Nebraska – Lincoln
What's been your most rewarding project(s) while at your firm?
From 2010-2015, I worked on the Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) SmartGrid Demonstration Project. This was a broad-scoped effort partially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and it overhauled the entire electric distribution system in a geographic subset of Kansas City. The project incorporated eight new back-end systems and a variety of new technologies that interfaced with legacy KCP&L systems and equipment.
During the project, we implemented and interconnected these systems according to emerging industry standards to demonstrate their viability and assess their benefits. From advanced metering infrastructure to substation automation; from field area networks to home area networks; from distribution automation to distributed energy resources – this project had it all.
This project was incredibly rewarding because it served as my introduction to the electric utility industry. Prior to this project, I (incorrectly) assumed that the electric grid was stale … that it was pretty much operating the same way it always had. I had no idea how much change the industry was going through, and my mind was opened to all the exciting things happening on the grid. This project was also rewarding because it took place in my hometown, so I was able to see firsthand how these technologies impacted both utility operations and the end customers!
Since so many of the SmartGrid technologies and systems were still in their infancy throughout this project, our team got to help define the use cases for the industry. We participated in standards creation groups, worked with vendors to ensure interoperability between products, and documented our findings to share our results with other utilities.
Through this project, I was able to help influence the direction of the electric utility industry. The work we did on this project is still being referenced today, as other utilities make decisions about which technologies and systems to deploy on their distribution system.
Most interesting place you've traveled for work?
I’ve done a LOT of traveling for work! I generally try to enjoy the scenery, food and local culture wherever I go!
What inspires you about your profession?
I get to work on the greatest invention of humankind – the electric grid. How cool is that? The grid is currently going through the biggest change of its existence, and I have a front row seat! Electric distribution is moving from a central generation station model towards one comprised of distributed energy resources spread throughout the service territory. The one-way distribution grid needs to adapt to facilitate two-way power flows, and there are millions of intelligent devices monitoring real time activity on the grid. Every day I’m challenged with new technologies, protocols and regulatory frameworks. What an exciting field!